MINELRES: RFE/RL Newsline on minority issues, September 20 - October 1, 2004

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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 179, Part II, 20 September 2004

TRANSDNIESTER SCHOOL SCANDAL CONTINUES. Ion Iovcev, director of the
Lucian Blaga school in Tiraspol, said on 18 September that local
authorities are pressuring parents to transfer their children to other,
Russian-language schools in the city, Flux reported. The school was
closed down by the authorities on 15 July and reportedly damaged by
Tiraspol police for teaching Moldovan (Romanian) with Latin script.
Local authorities reportedly threaten parents that if they do not
transfer their children, they could lose their jobs, and risk being
investigated for not granting their children the right to education. In
related news, 170 Moldovan school directors signed an open letter to
Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking him to intervene in order to
restore teaching at the Romanian-language schools in Transdniester. ZsM

FOUR INJURED IN RACIALLY MOTIVATED ASSAULT IN MOSCOW. Four men from the
Caucasus were attacked and beaten on 18 September in a Moscow subway
train by a group of 20 to 50 young people, Interfax reported. The four
men were hospitalized with contusions and knife wounds, while none of
the attackers were captured. Ekho Moskvy reported on 19 September that a
case has been opened on charges of inciting ethnic hatred, rather than
hooliganism as was previously reported. "Gazeta" reported on 20
September that Moscow police chief Vladimir Pronin has apologized to
Magomed Tolboev, a Hero of Russia and test pilot from Daghestan who was
beaten by two police officers on 9 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10
September 2004). "I wanted an official apology," Tolboev told the daily.
"I got it. I don't intend to take revenge on anyone." A police
spokeswoman told the daily that the department has received 6,585
complaints about police behavior so far this year. Of these, 2,687 were
confirmed by department probes and handed over to prosecutors, leading
to 198 criminal cases and charges being filed against 127 officers. RC


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 180, Part II, 21 September 2004

ETHNIC UKRAINIANS MARCH FROM TRANSDNIESTER TO KYIV TO PROTEST MOLDOVA'S
ECONOMIC SANCTIONS. Some 70 ethnic Ukrainians from Moldova's breakaway
Transdniester region on 20 September crossed the Moldovan-Ukrainian
border and are marching to Kyiv to request that the Ukrainian
authorities defend them from the economic sanctions imposed on
Transdniester by Moldova, Interfax reported. "We are forced to take this
action, because the economic situation in Transdniester is becoming more
and more acute," said Volodymyr Bodnar, deputy of the Supreme Council of
the unrecognized Transdniestrian Republic and head of the Union of
Ukrainians of Transdniester. "Foreign Minister" Valerii Litskai told
RFE/RL last week that some 20,000 people in Transdniester have Ukrainian
passports. JM


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 181, Part I, 22 September 2004

MOSCOW POLICE DETAIN MORE THAN 11,000 UNREGISTERED RESIDENTS... Moscow
police carried out two days of sweeps on 15-16 September and rounded up
more than 11,000 people suspected of living in the city without having
registered with the authorities, "The Moscow Times" reported on 21
September. According to police, 6,781 Russian citizens and 4,377
foreigners, mostly citizens of other CIS countries, have been detained
and 840 have already been deported. The Federal Security Service (FSB)
estimates that about 1 million people are living illegally in Moscow.
RosBalt reported on 20 September that authorities in Moscow Oblast
rounded up about 2,500 unregistered people during sweeps the same days.
In its upcoming sessions, the Duma is expected to examine proposals to
tighten up immigration and registration requirements, including one by
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov that would require people to register with
the authorities immediately upon arrival at a new place of residence,
rather than within three days as the current law requires. RC

....AS PUBLIC AGREES THAT RUSSIA NEEDS TIGHTER BORDER, REGISTRATION
CONTROLS. A recent survey by the Public Opinion Foundation found that 92
percent of Russians believe that Russia needs stricter border controls,
while 82 percent felt that police should be checking identification in
public places more frequently, "Izvestiya" reported on 18 September.
About two-thirds of respondents endorsed stricter controls over the
media. Forty-five percent backed the idea of armed civilian patrols,
while 42 percent opposed that proposal. Forty-four percent said the
security services should be allowed to listen in on telephone
conversations and read mail, while 45 percent opposed such intrusions.
Forty-one percent said they do not understand what terrorists want from
Russia, while 20 percent said the terrorists want to destabilize the
situation in the North Caucasus and 7 percent said they wanted to force
a complete withdrawal of federal forces from Chechnya. RC

GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES VERIFY CHECHENS IN PANKISI. In the wake of
allegations by U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Miles and Russian
First Deputy Foreign Minister Valerii Loshchinin that people with links
to international terrorists remain in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 20 September 2004), Interior and State
Security ministry forces launched a special operation on 21 September to
verify the identity of Chechen refugees living in the area, Caucasus
Press reported. Speaking in Tbilisi on 21 September after meeting with
visiting U.S. officials, Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania said that the
situation in Pankisi is "under control," rustavi2.com reported. LF


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 181, Part II, 22 September 2004

ONE MILLION BOSNIANS HAVE GONE HOME. About 1 million people, or 45
percent of the estimated 2.2 million Bosnian citizens who fled their
homes during the 1992-95 war, have returned, UN High Commissioner for
Refugees Ruud Lubbers said in a statement in Sarajevo on 21 September,
Reuters reported. Of the remaining number, about half probably have no
intention of returning, but up to 500,000 others still have no permanent
solution to their housing problems. About 350,000 of those people are in
Croatia, 100,000 in Serbia and Montenegro, and 50,000 in other European
countries. Housing shortages, inadequate infrastructure, legal problems,
and a lack of jobs, as well as war-related political and interethnic
issues, are the main obstacles to returning (see "RFE/RL South Slavic
Report," 16 September 2004). Of those people who have returned to their
former homes in areas where their ethnic group is now in the minority,
it is not clear how many have gone back to stay and how many have
returned just to sell their property and leave again. Persons familiar
with the return process have told "RFE/RL Newsline" of many cases of
fraud, such as would-be returnees stripping their newly rebuilt homes of
building materials provided by international donors and selling those
materials on the open market. PM

PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION CAMPAIGN BEGINS IN KOSOVA. Campaigning for the 23
October parliamentary elections officially got under way across Kosova
on 21 September, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service
reported. One hundred of the 120 seats are being contested by 32 parties
or coalitions. Of the remaining seats, 10 are reserved for members of
the Serbian minority and 10 for members of other minorities (see "RFE/RL
Balkan Report," 13 August 2004). Ethnic Albanians make up about 90
percent of the population. PM

CROATIAN PRESIDENT URGES TOLERANCE IN KOSOVA. One user of RFE/RL's South
Slavic and Albanian Language Service's website on 21 September
identified himself to Croatian President Mesic as a Rom from Kosova,
adding that he suffers from discrimination by members of the province's
ethnic Albanian majority. The man said that he has never heard Mesic
condemn Albanians for "terrorizing" Roma. [Croatian President] Mesic
replied that the Albanians were oppressed in the past but should now "be
more tolerant toward minorities" because former Serbian and Yugoslav
President Slobodan "Milosevic's terror" has ended and "Europe" insists
on equality between ethnic groups. Another website user asked why
"Croatian citizens don't like Herzegovinians," to which Mesic replied
that this assumption is not true. The president called Herzegovinians
"hard-working and peaceful" but added that some Herzegovinians "stick
out" and have given the others a bad name. He did not elaborate. The
stereotype of Herzegovinians in Croatian jokes is of country people with
large families and predilections for nationalist politics with a
strongly Roman Catholic flavor and questionable business activities. PM


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 184, Part I, 27 September 2004

ASSYRIANS IN ARMENIA ALLEGE DISCRIMINATION. Assyrian residents of
thevillage of Dimitrov, south of Yerevan, claimed on 24 September that
the head of the local Armenian administration has withheld relief aid
that they were entitled to receive in the wake of last summer's severe
drought, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Irina Gasparian, a
spokeswoman for Armenia's tiny Assyrian minority, also told RFE/RL that
Assyrians are subject to discrimination and barred from holding
government jobs. But a government official attributed the Dimitrovcase
to simple corruption, claiming that Armenian residents in the village
have also complained about the local administrator in question. LF


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 185, Part I, 29 September 2004

RUSSIAN OFFICIAL SAYS UP TO 800,000 TAJIK MIGRANTS IN RUSSIA. Igor
Yunash, first deputy director of Russia's Federal Migration Service,
told Avesta on 28 September that 600,000-800,000 migrant laborers from
Tajikistan are currently in Russia. The information was obtained through
a survey of Russian police and border authorities. Yunash said that 90
percent of the migrants are in Russia illegally. Nonetheless, he told
Avesta, "We feel that temporary labor migration is beneficial to
Russia." He also noted that the Federal Migration Service is sponsoring
legislation to ease the migration process. Yunash put the total number
of illegal migrants in Russia at 5 million. DK


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 186, Part II, 30 September 2004

DETAILS PUBLISHED OF UN RECOMMENDATIONS FOR KOSOVA. Details of a
confidential report on Kosova by Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide were
published by the "Financial Times" on 29 September. Eide's report, which
was presented to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in late July,
"recommends 'aiming to terminate' the [UN] mission [to Kosova] if, as
predicted, negotiations on Kosovo's future status start next year," the
"Financial Times" wrote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August and 13, 21,
and 27 September 2004, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 July and 17
September 2004). The newspaper said Eide also recommended that the UN
initiate "serious exploratory discussions" this fall aimed at
determining the province's future status. "The report predicts that
growing tensions in Kosovo between the ethnic Albanian majority and the
UN will 'force' the international community 'at least in mid-2005 if not
earlier' to schedule full-scale status negotiations, involving political
leaders from Belgrade and Kosovo," the "Financial Times" reported. In
light of the looming tensions, Eide opposes the planned reduction of
NATO troops in Kosova. The report also says that once the UN has
withdrawn, Kosova will be ruled from Prishtina, with the EU assuming
some form of international lead role. UB

UNCERTAINTY LOOMS OVER TRANSDNIESTER'S CLAIM TO HAVE REGISTERED BANNED
SCHOOLS. The Education Ministry of the unrecognized Transdniester
republic said in a statement released on 29 Septemberthat two schools in
Tiraspol and Ribnita that had been closed downhave been registered for
one year, Flux and Infotag reported.According to the breakaway region's
official Olivia Press, the ministry said the registration brings to an
end the problem of the schools teaching Moldovan (Romanian) with Latin
script, which "hasbeen artificially inflated by Chisinau." OSCE
spokesman Claus Neukirch said the OSCE mission in Moldova received on 29
September the registration documents, adding that they do not mention
whether new buildings have been found for the two schools, Flux
reported. The building of the Lucian Blaga Lyceum in Tiraspol was
heavily damaged by Transdniestrian militiamen when they stormed it in
July. The lyceum in Ribnita has been reconstructed with funds from
Chisinau. Moldovan Reintegration Minister Vasilii Sova said that
registration of the schools for one year under conditions imposing on
them Tiraspol's curriculum is unacceptable, Flux reported. MS


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 187, Part I, 1 October 2004

THREE CONVICTED OF RACIALLY MOTIVATED MURDER IN VORONEZH. Three men in
Voronezh were convicted on 30 September of the racially motivated murder
of a 24-year-old African student on 21 February, Interfax reported (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 25 February, 7 April, and 12 August 2004). Yevgenii
Shishlov, 22, was sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment and was ordered to
pay a 100,000-ruble ($3,330) fine. Roman Ledenev, 20, was sentenced to
10 years' imprisonment and a 40,000-ruble fine.  An unidentified
16-year-old as sentenced to 9 years' incarceration and a 30,000-ruble
fine. The case marks only the second time that anyone has been convicted
under Russia's law against racially motivated crime. In November 2003,
the Moscow Municipal Court convicted five young men aged between 12 and
17 for the 28 March 2002 murder of an ethnic Armenian Russian citizen
named Karen Yakhshibekov, grani.ru reported on 18 November 2003. RC